Simon Dillon reviews the quirky indie coming of age comedy-drama.

Lady Bird

Writer/director Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird is a quirky indie comedy-drama which, via great reviews and marketing, went on to acquire a Best Picture nomination. It didn't stand a chance of winning (nor did it deserve to), but nonetheless it is an entertaining, finely observed piece of work.

Two terrific performances in particular, from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, hold the film together. Ronan and Metcalf are daughter and mother, Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, and Marion McPherson, respectively. Their central relationship forms the heart of a coming of age drama set during Lady Bird's final year at a Catholic school. The other key relationship in the story, the friendship between Lady Bird and her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), is almost equally important.

Frankly, this is nothing we haven't seen many times before, but Gerwig puts a fresh, agreeably idiosyncratic spin on familiar themes of peer pressure, trying to find one's own voice, closet homosexuality, loss of virginity and so forth. Refreshingly, this is not overtly anti-religious, though it does take amusing satirical swipes at certain elements of school life (for example, the "six inches for the Holy Spirit" gap that is supposed to be left between dancing couples at a school ball). Some of the Catholic characters, in particularly a kindly nun played by Lois Smith, are warm and sympathetic to Lady Bird, and despite one calculated scene that comes off as a preachy pro-choice moment, the film opts for a largely sympathetic view of Catholic faith.

The drama is largely observational, slightly nostalgic for it's period setting (2002/3), with scenes that are both funny and touching. One particularly hilarious moment involves a sports coach attempting to direct a school production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, but there are other scenes that really get under the skin of those confusing, latter teen years.

Warnings for very strong language apply, but despite the admittedly slight plot, this is a film that satisfies mostly on the basis of it's very strong lead performances. For Ronan and Metcalf alone, this convincing and resonant mother/daughter story is well worth a watch. CR

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